Goal for the day: Getting to know the Lecce historic center. First we went to a little office place to take care of some business stuff (we have an offer on my mom’s house…it’s complicated) and the people were so nice and fun to talk to. Of course, we asked them for a restaurant recommendation.
Onward, to our first stop. Piazza Santa Croce. First building is a public administration building, Palazzo del Celestitni:
which is attached to the Santa Croce Church. This incredibly carved ornate exterior is pretty mind blowing and known as the symbol of Baroque Lecce. You could stare at just a small section of it for a long time and keep seeing new things.
I had downloaded an audio tour but it wasn’t working very well. It was enough just to focus on the exterior and imagine. Full disclosure–there was some scaffolding on this church.
From there we walked and found ourselves at the piazza Oronzo with the huge excavated ruin of a Roman amphitheater. We hung out here for a while gather information and telling each other what we had learned. Part of the piazza includes this small building with the Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice. Inside were men playing cards. Outside were 3 older men sitting in plastic chairs just relaxing. I asked them why was the Venetian symbol on that building–they explained that way way back, the mayor of Venice had come to Lecce to set up some trade deals and had built this little chapel and that now it is deconsecrated and given over to military veterans. My conversation with them was hysterical. Their Italian was fine but they all spoke to me at once making it really difficult to focus enough to understand but I managed.
We walked and took in a few other gorgeous churches. When we got to the duomo (where we had seen the girls singing yesterday) and stepped inside through the side entrance, we immediately heard an organ playing “Here Comes the Bride.” We were just in time to see her enter with the wedding party!
We had a really good coffee at a place called “00”, doppiozero. Happened on another Roman theater, just a bit smaller and a couple more churches. It looked like it was just about to rain so we stepped into the Church of Irene and sat and took it all in for a while. When we came out everything was wet but the sky was bright blue; we had not heard a thing inside the church. All that was left of the rain was the African umbrella sellers wandering around.
In the afternoon, we walked to the Castello but it was closed for a conference. On the way home we sat for a while in Piazza Mazzini.
Dinner was fabulous! We went to A’Roma, a Roman restaurant (duh) not a block from us and recommended by the business folks. We started with each having our own pasta because we both knew what we really wanted. For me– small rigatoni alla Grecia, which is just guanciale and cheese basically. Oh man, pork fat city! it was delicious. Ken had a perfect bucatini Amatriciana. Then we shared some grilled sausage and vegetables. The wine was an organic sangiovese from near Rome. They asked if you want it chilled or room temperature and we chose chilled–perfect!
We walked for just a few minutes after dinner. So stuffed!